Dec 5, 2007

We want big bikes, but not thaat big...

Yamaha 2008 YZF-R1What the hell do you guys want? One minute we're crying about only having piddly, silly, econo-effing-mising appliances masquerading as motorcycles, the next minute we're lamenting the fact that the latest and the greatest – now available – isn't really what we were whining about in the first place. That we're modest people, of modest means and that we've no greatness except for the realisation that we are, in fact, modest. So all we're asking is some modest middle-of-the-road 600cc single or twin; who said anything about a 1000cc inline four? Goddammit!

I was so deliriously happy last night, I went out got a beer, chilled it properly and savoured it slowly while dreaming about a million things. Things like the next increment and how much closer it would bring me to my dream bike. Things like the fact that I'm ecstatic for the five riding buddies of mine who're going to be able to afford the R1 (with or without finance) and are going to get to ride perfectly legal, up-to-the-minute machinery. Five people who's dreams have come good yesterday. Things like the realisation that 10.5 lakhs may sound like a lot, but it does mean that Yamaha can bring the R1 into India for as little as Rs 5 lakh. So as and when the government reduces the hefty duties it levies, the R1 can become more and more affordable. One day, the gently rising curve of my income will inevitably cross the gently falling curve of the R1... and what a delicious little wait that will turn out to be. Things like the fact that the new R1s will grow old. And when they do, their fast-moving fad-conscious owners (there will be those kind of owners too, it goes without saying) will move on, vacating the still-new saddles for people like me. Things like the fact that the R1, and its surprising sales (wanna bet?) will lure Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and KTMs and they will come running in as well. That within a year or two, the CBU operation will be lucrative and a steady revenue stream will subsidise, support and complement the volume game. Then, my dream garage will take a step closer to reality. Then, I might seriously think about a KTM SuperDuke or 990SM for a second motorcycle.

Yesterday, December 4, 2007, the Indian market crossed a milestone. A milestone similar to the one the RD350 represented. Face it. Since the RD350, we (those who've been intimate with the beast)'ve scoffed at every other machine – too tame, too slow, not sexy enough, haven't we? Same's true of the R1. The RD350 was a big step up in power. This one, by comparison, is absolutely huge. If the RD350 was a four-storey building set in a hutment cluster, the R1 is a 50-storey tall condo full of penthouses. Yes, I know, you just want the spacious 1 bedroom-hall-kitchen on the second floor.

Okay look, let me calm down a bit and put it in a more um, calm perspective.

First of all, this is for those who think they can't (and will never be able to) afford it. Oh come on, its Rs 10.5 lakh not Rs 6 crore. That's Honda Civic, not Ferrari F430 money. Are you convinced that your economic worth to your employer will not even equal one measly Honda Civic. Ever? Is that even realistic? And besides, its one of the absolute best sportsbikes in existence. It's never gonna be cheap. Could you reasonably demand a Lamborghini for Civic money?

Second, we all figure out what our priorities really are in time. And far be it from me to judge you. But if your priority isn't owning a big bike, that's fine and let's leave it at that. No further discussion, then, is needed at all.

Third, do you really think a 400cc single is all you need? How would you know – have you ridden one? Okay maybe you have. When I bought the only four-cylinder motorcycle I've owned, I was in awe. It was huge, fast, capable and frankly, a bit scary. For two whole days I pussy-footed around with it thinking, who the eff needs more power than this. On the third day, I 'acclimatised' and rode it normally. The way I would ride any other Indian machine in the given situation. That evening, it was clear that the bike was going to last less than six months in my garage. In three days, I had begun to outgrown that machine. In six months, I enjoyed riding it, but it was no longer a challenge. A 400cc single? You'll outgrow it in a year. I will almost guarantee that.

You still want a 400cc single? That's easy, you'll probably get one or two before the next year is out. You want an enjoyable 600cc twin? Give it a year more than the 400cc single. They're coming – they have to. But to write mean little things about the one manufacturer who's actually offering you the option of buying their fastest, flagship motorcycle? And to be clear, it does not matter why Yamaha has chosen to bring the bikes in as long as they do it as seriously as they would handle a normal Indian product launch – with service, warranty and spares. The rest doesn't matter. As of yesterday, as soon as I can scrape together the money I can live my dream. Instantly. That's a huge, big deal. As of yesterday, anyone with a dream and a pocket deep enough to finance it no longer has to resort to a quasi-legal import, or wait desperately hoping for someone to open a window and let some light in.

Fourth, where will you ride a 1000cc, 180 bhp rocket in our roads? By that logic, half the cars sold in India are wildly over-speced. And they're flying out the showrooms at a pace that defies all logic. It's a motorcycle, not a screwdriver. A screwdriver is pretty pointless if you don't have screws, or have the wrong kind (I strictly mean the metal ones). But the bike, almost any bike, is more than a tool. It doesn't have to run at peak power all the time, you know. The throttle goes both ways, as they say. A motorcycle is more than the sum of its parts. Its something you fall in love with. And love does not require the engine to be running at peak rpm, or the speedo to be showing the top speed figure. Love is a little bit irrational.

You're writing off a whole stack of motorcycles, each of which are acknowledged as the best motorcycles EVER. Without even riding them. Is that even fair to yourself? Besides, who said we don't have roads. We don't have roads everywhere all the time, that I will agree with. But none whatsoever? Have you looked hard enough? What about tomorrow? Like we said about the bikes some time ago, the roads are coming too. As are the racetracks.

Fifth, assuming that Yamaha, for instance, listens to you dudes, and stops selling these ludicrously over-priced motorcycles in India. You return, instantly, to the same dark ages you have been complaining about. I refuse to believe that is what you want. You've been hankering for progress, someone stands up and says here's a hundred years' worth. You're going to say no thanks, you wanted only three years of it?

Sixth, ... I could go on and on... but I just needed to get these thoughts off my chest.

Clip not the wings of your dreams today, because you fear for their survival tomorrow. For tomorrow may never come.

No offence is intended towards any particular persons. Apologies to all who got offended.

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Uday said...

Man, that's straight from the heart! You were hurt too, reading those posts, weren't you?

theslayer said...

*Applause* *Applause*

Well put. I was looking at a 600ccer too, but then yeah, you make sense!

But what about the 6000 rupee oil change and 20000 per tyre change?

--xh-- said...

brillinet arguments. now i dont have to muster up argumenst to my friends who sayz R1 launch is too high for them - i can simply point them to your page.
I agree with your arguments, but sadly, R1 is not the bike I want. I dont dream about a sports bike, but a dualsport. A bike which I can take to any trail - and with a price range of 3L. more than that - I wont be able to afford in next year, but eventually, as you put, when the curves of my earning and price of the bike crosses each other, I will buy it. I think Yamaha have done a wonderful thing by opening up their top range and truly hope it will make other manufactures go the same way.

sameer said...

Very correct - this is a defining moment in India's biking landscape. This makes everything else possible! Even the (now) lowly Pulsars used this well - the moment there's a 220, the 200 seems more affordable and sells like hot cakes. The R1 is a flagship like no other - flag or ship.

Alas, while a 10L Civic is ok and can be justified to family for a whole bunch of points, one is almost labelled irresponsible if one "splurges" that much on a bike like the R1.

But hats off to Yam for the launch, and providing the most catalysing ingredient to the entire market. No more 20cc upgrade here, 20 cc there and a disc brake everywhere.

GR said...

used to get them mags and carefully cut out those nice pics/ posters

ok i admit the bikes were outnumbered by the other category :p (but they did make the wall, so there)

so you sit there trying to cog something or the other occasionally dismissing the thought of swingin leg across ... you get the drift

Then this really happens, you can actually walk into showroom, swipe card or whatever and ride out on an R1. WoW.

Admittedly I am *not* in the running-out-to-check-the-EMI-read the-reviews-sell-bike-walk-to-work

It is still no more accessible than that Ms. -----

(then again am not in the I-wish-I-had-not-posted-that mode ;P my condolences)

As Sameer (BN) said "Welcome to the post R1 Indian biking era"

Surely we'll have an interesting time (and not interesting in the Chinese way)

Vague Cage plans are absolutely indfntly postponed.

Who knows that dual which features prominently in my dreams might show up hanging behind a glass window ...

Thank you Yamaha.


ps: easter egg (of sorts) gives away original sentiment :))) anyone else spotted it ?

Sankoobaba said...

i agree with --xh-- ..similar views..R1 is not yet my dream bike....a cruiser maybe...!!anyway dream aside..
R1 is gr8 news...
gr8 so soon more CC's on the street...lets get better roads!!

Revhard said...

Theoretically, if I gave up eating all 3 meals,stopped phone & internet service, and all misc expenses regarding staying alive and remain a bachelor staying with parents to save on rent or house loan, I could afford an R1 with 4-5 year's salary worth. Of course due to hunger I'd be dead by then. Do I want an R1 ? Hell yes. Can I afford it now ? Hell no. Can I afford one after 4-5 years, maybe ( see above sacrifices ) - but given the reality of having to eat, pay rent,loans,bills and live normally , let aside take on responsibilities of a family, kill the budget and aspirations of many a biker.

Its not that bikers don't want R1's and the like. It's just that they are as of now still too expensive for Indian salaried class, and by the time our salaries rise enough to afford a Honda Civic, we're in late 40's or early 50's. Too bad for us, because by now we;re hopeless aging fathers with wives long shopping lists anf children's fees to pay, and slowing reflexes, sagging health for that superbike we so longed for in our youth.

Granted ,there are old men still riding big bikes, but then the Indian cricket team wins matches once in a while too .

road-yo said...

My thoughts exactly.

GAGAN said...

got the point dude!!

Trini said...

Good writing rearset!!i dunno when my curves will meet, but u know even india's million commuters stand to gain from the trickle down effects of having the biggies around! Serious technology at affordable prices..125cc commuters putting out much more than the current 10 bhp, liquid cooled engines.. Fuel injection for all, etc ,etc.. The futures bright.. get your tinted visor on!!!cheers!!

Anonymous said...

Kind of concur with trini - having those bikes will open up the technology flow across the market.

Dude - if there are no dreams to chase then life would be meaningless

Rock on and may those curves meet sooner than you expected.

- Yugesh

sac said...

here i am living in the UK, i can't yet afford to have a superbike (any of you compared licence and insurance costs in the two countries?), but i do spend most of my lunchtimes at the street corner, bike-spotting...

Anonymous said...

R125 should have been released to - What about R150 to compete with current Indian 150 market?

tburman said...

Rejoice, for there will now be more R1 goodies at the junkyards.

nJ said...

I cant leave this post without commenting on it.

anywayz...dude rearset...even i was sorta pissed off when i read a few comments on da blog after R1's launch. Till these bikes were launched ppl were craving for them and when the bikes r finally here, am scared...yamaha might scrap these plans of theirs.

i hope that day doesnt come again(like wid da RD350s era), instead all the other japs also shud join the bandwagon.

Well, even I cant afford an R1 right now...but like you said...I have a dream...n am on my way to realise that...its just that yamaha made it easier for me.

I had been go to the US..earn there for abt 4 or 5 years and come back n import an sbk. And now,am glad to tell u dat am two steps closer in realising that dream of mine.#1 I dont need to import them, instead i can buy them....if u can say..."off the shelf" here in India itself....#2 am off to USA on 19th Dec, 07. so whether its an R1 or a busa or the B-King, am going to buy one for sure after 5 or 6 years :D .

Hope to see you wid an R1 soon rearset....and imagining...reading a review of R1 on ur blog!!! waiting for it bro. all da best.

gr said...

Rejoice, for there will now be more R1 goodies at the junkyards

Huh ?

To all accounts Cleopatra was a very beautiful woman.

However I will not turned on by her mummified remains

or crashed bikes.

whatever floats your boat.

and JIC there was some hidden philosophy or humor that i missed you might like to know that Yamaha will also sell you decent riding gear and give riding lessons.

rearset said...

Sorry! Clicked reject by mistake...

Payeng said:

@ revhard:
"Its not that bikers don't want R1's and the like. It's just that they are as of now still too expensive for Indian salaried class, and by the time our salaries rise enough to afford a Honda Civic, we're in late 40's or early 50's. Too bad for us, because by now we;re hopeless aging fathers with wives long shopping lists anf children's fees to pay, and slowing reflexes, sagging health for that superbike we so longed for in our youth."

You said it.

Maybe I should have gone to the US of A for a few years.. but then hey, I just quit my Software Job yesterday to chase my dream/ambition..!!

And my dreams are a bit different.

The BATFAN said...

Long TIme no see, my friend. Sorry, I am back. You see we were busy pushing another delight for you

You are right. The roads. they are not always their but they are for those who want it. I have been driving my Galdiator on the same stretch of 5 km up and down of well tarnished stretch on the upcoming Rajiv Gandhi IT Highway in Chennai. The place is deserted at night and if you are practiced enough, sane enough and sensible I think you can have one of the best linear speeds on the road. And doing just that itself on my 125 single makes me feel that when will I get more under the saddle. When will it really seem that the outside world can actually blur when you are still in control of everything. When your eyes can pierce the blur with the focussed vision. Ah ecstacy.

And that quote

Clip not the wings of your dreams today, because you fear for their survival tomorrow. For tomorrow may never come.

Have you written that just for this . Man I need to start back blogging. BTW, I think we deserve one story of your motorcycling history as I am really wondering that how many motorcycles you have had. Which is the four cylinder motorcycle that you purchased in India. That would have been expensive too right. If you grew over it and sold it then what did you replace it with as there could not have been much better than it to buy in our country.

rearset said...

Hey Batfan, welcome back!

Yes that quote was written for this post. And no, I didn't replace the four with anything. I'd realised by then, that the budget I needed to replace that bike with something reasonable was not feasible at the time. Still working on it. About Rs 12 Lakh should do it... working on that... heh heh

Maltesh Ashrit said...

Yea, Right said Rearset.
Now that the bikes are launched, it would be interesting to note, how many actually shell out the money.

agree with you that all we needed as 400/600cc bike which one manf. could have assembled here in India an cost around 2 lakh rupees.

That would have been gr8

MBBS power of life said...

Stupid Yamaha, stupid. Selling a bike to only certain showrooms and expensive. This is dumb as using butter knife for surgery.

Nandu Chitnis said...

At the outset...big congrats to Yamaha to launch R-1 in India and get the Indian biking enthus to salivate...n why not? Ask for affordable Fazers.

It's another thing, who has moolah who does not to buy the R-1...dont we like all say 'WOW' when an odd Farari speeds past? Or when u see a H Busa simply parked on the roadside?

In small village hamlets, I used to get mobbed at chai tapris on my ride? The Avenger!!! See my blog the Hampi ride ...Feb 2007.

Hey guys reading this lemme know who among you buys the Yamaha R-1. Would love to stand nxt to u and ur Yam for a fotopic.

gr said...

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

We know have the R1

and for those fortunate to get one to Hyderabad

if you don't want to be a frequent customer get something like this


see this story :(


I wish the government would back all this excellent effort with enforcing things which do not need such high tech

driving on the wrong side of the road, U turn in the middle of a flyover, jumping signals ...

It would also be very nice if they realized that painting the top part of headlight reflectors will not prevent oncoming traffic from being blinded.

and even nicer of course if posting speed limits were clearly posted! the default i understand is 40 kmph.

sigh. end of rant. for the moment.


The BATFAN said...

now that we have the beauties here, I think Bajaj and TVS will up the ante in looks and design as, people would be ready to shell out money if they get killer sport looks on a descent commuter. Moreover then we don't have to mod bikes out of warranty.